Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Postcards: Three American motels that are now just memories

"Long-Gone Mid-Century Motels" is one of my favorite subcategories in postcard collecting. How else will these travelers' havens be remembered?

Here are three old cards, along with the hotels' biographical data, from the reverse side. If you have memories of any of these places, please share them in the comments section.

Monteagle Restaurant and Motel (Monteagle, Tennessee)

"38 Air Conditioned Units with TV — 100 seat Restaurant. A good nights rest atop the highest point between Chicago and Miami on U.S. highways 41 and 64. Spacious Lobby, Recreation Room, Swimming Pool, Playground, and Gift Shop. Phone WA 4-9461."

CURRENT STATUS: Razed within past half-decade to make way for a CVS, per Vanishing America.

About Monteagle, from Wikipedia: "Monteagle is most famous for the treacherous stretch of Interstate 24 that passes through the town. It is here that the highway passes over what is colloquially referred to as 'The Monteagle' or 'Monteagle Mountain', a section of the southern Cumberland Plateau which is a major landmark on the road between Chattanooga and Nashville. The interstate regularly shuts down in inclement weather, routing traffic onto U.S. Route 41. In the Jerry Reed song 'The Legend', which is the opening track in the film Smokey and the Bandit, Reed tells the story of the Bandit miraculously surviving brake failure on the 'Monteagle Grade.'"

The Normandy, aka Normandy Court (St. Augustine, Florida)

"THE NORMANDY. St. Augustine, Fla. 304 San Marco Ave. and U.S. 1. Quiet — Comfortable — Central Heating System — Air-Conditioned — Television — Restaurants Within Walking Distance — Moderate Rates — Phone 824-2802 — Mr. & Mrs. David S. Brilhart"

CURRENT STATUS: Unknown. But it's almost certain that the original building is no longer there.

Alamo Plaza Courts (Nashville, Tennessee)

"ALAMO PLAZA COURTS. South Suburbs, U.S. 70 and 41, Nashville, Tenn. 96 rooms, tile baths, carpeted floors, 24 hour telephone and bellboy service, Beautyrest, electric heat, 100% Air-Conditioned, convenient restaurants. CLEAN, The World's Best Housekeeping. Free Swimming Pool — Free TV."

This one was part of a bit of history. The Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts were the first motel chain in the United States, having been founded in Texas in 1929. There were about two dozen locations across the southeastern States, many of which used common branding and architecture.

Info on the Nashville location, per Nashville author Scott Faragher, via Wikipedia: "Opened 1941 by E.L. McLallen, these 'Alamo Plaza Courts' did not use standard Alamo architecture but were Colonial Revival with columns at all entranceways, chimneys and dormers on the two-story office building.

"Now just a memory."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mystery photo: A backyard and a motel

This somewhat nondescript photo is perhaps most notable for its purplish tint. The date of August 10, 1957, is written on the back in pencil1, and there is a stamp indicating that it is a Kodacolor Print made by Eastman Kodak Company in the "Week Ending Nov. 3, 195_."

What was intended as the subject of the photograph? The backyard? The tree? The motel in the distance, with its sign seemingly specifically left in the frame?

The top part of the sign is almost unreadable. But, in fiddling with the brightness and contrast, it appears that the word above MOTEL consists of five letter and begins with an M. My best guess is that the sign reads "Myles Motel," but I wouldn't take that to Vegas.

1. Unrelated: On August 10, 1957, New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle hit a thunderous home run over the center-field fence at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium that is estimated to have traveled 540 feet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The jaw-dropping dust jackets of George Manning-Sanders' novels

Here at Papergreat, it's all about folktale author Ruth Manning-Sanders. But her husband, George Manning-Sanders (1884-1952)1, was also an author.

He had at least three published novels. And their dust jackets are gorgeous. I can't imagine many of these are still floating around. So let's post them here, too, for posterity.

Drum & Monkey
"A novel about a dealer in second-hand oddments, and his ambitions for his young son."

via Flickr

The Burnt Man
"Man escapes his past and starts life anew in the west of England."

via Between the Covers Rare Books Inc.

The Third Day
"Humphrey Daine dramatically remakes his life and loves."

via Amazon (It would be great, though improbable, if a better version of this dust jacket was available somewhere.)

Drum & Monkey (1929) and The Burnt Man (1930) were published by Faber and Faber. The Third Day was published in 1930 by Horace Liveright.

1. Before he married Ruth Vernon Manning and became a hyphenate, his birth name was George Rawlings Sanders.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The wisdom of Joyce Carol Oates

American author and educator Joyce Carol Oates came out with a Twitter Essay over the weekend about Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee and related topics that have people in the book-selling and literature industries buzzing.

Her insights are worth saving and sharing, so I'm presenting them here. (Partly because I'm still convinced that the great stuff from Twitter will get lost in the digital sands of time.)

It began with this tweet...

And here is the rest of her essay from July 18:

Buying books, especially from a local bookstore, for whatever motive — this is good, this is exhilarating, this is uplifting, any books at all.

For bookstores are not non-profits but small independent businesses that sell meritorious products (for the most part) & deserve customers.

Literary writers & poets may sneer at bestsellers ("Fifty Shades of Gray Fur") but these bestsellers keep afloat stores that sell poetry.

Writers w/ visions not notably skewed by wish to make readers feel good nonetheless profit (sic) from hordes of readers for these books.

Yes it is sad that novels dealing honestly & powerfully w/ race in America ("Light in August," "The Bluest Eye") are eclipsed by novels that purposefully misrepresent such issues, presenting a false portrait of a "good" white Southerner where evidently there was just a bigot.

But there could never be a mega-bestseller that represented the starkest reality of US life — that is not possible. So, well-intentioned fantasies are preferable to nothing at all. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is beloved because it makes people wish to be better.

That it is revealed as something of a whitewash (sic) of the portrait of the author's father, executed under guidance of canny editor, is a separate issue, non-literary & beyond the frame. In itself, this is an amazing story fraught w/ every sort of irony including revenge of a writer once young whose first, presumably truth-telling novel was rejected by editor as unpublishable (i.e., not commercial).

Now, fifty years later, editor long dead, author in late 80s, she oversees publication of this once-rejected novel to great acclaim.

In this, Harper Lee has had an extraordinary career: "classic" first novel, mega bestseller last novel, & nothing in between.

If Harper Lee did not want old/first novel published, she could have destroyed the manuscript. She had fifty presumably clear-minded years.

It should be understood that writers, like everyone else, can change their minds. Your perspective at age 30 will not be same at age 80.

Worst sort of ageism to ASSUME that anyone beyond 80, or 90, is automatically non compos mentis. Burden of proof should be on accuser.

Have not read "Watchman" but assume that it is, or was, the author's heartfelt first novel & more honest than "Mockingbird." Why not publish?

May be that "Watchman" is an awkward first novel & below "Mockingbird" as storytelling but so are many new books of fiction/non-fiction.

Ironic that the first, rejected novel was (evidently) the "mature" novel & the second, bestseller novel the less mature/child's-eye version.

Career of Harper Lee bears some resemblance to that of Ralph Ellison, whose "Invisible Man" became bestseller/classic. Unlike Harper Lee, Ralph Ellison did engage in a literary career of sorts, though he could not ever bring himself to publish a second novel.

Early success can be a curse, or a burden to overcome: Norman Mailer is an example of a writer who persevered valiantly after first success & took on the vicissitudes of a real "career" — daring to follow a much-acclaimed first novel w/ a second novel, & then a third, & a fourth.

It is psychologically easier — (though not financially) — to have a career that progresses slowly (if not too slowly) but steadily...

William Faulkner's several early novels, all "failures," forced him to confront a more personal, deeper & tragic subject: the South. Immediate early success would have annihilated Faulkner — we would not even know his name today. Failure nurtured his genius.

Please don't laugh but: failure allows you privacy & space to grow; immediate success is a spotlight glaring in your face & privacy vanished.

Once a writer is a mega bestseller he/she is a product to be marketed. You do not want your sales to plummet, so you repeat formula.

All publishing houses want books to sell: they are not non-profits or charities. But if a writer wants badly "to sell" he/she is compromised.

Norman Mailer imagined a writer's career akin to that of a professional boxer. You give all you have, if knocked down you get up. Never quit.

Random vintage photo: A woman and a mailbox in Denmark

Here's an unlabeled shot from my grandmother's collection of travel snapshots. It's pretty straightforward. A woman — don't know who — in a blue pantsuit is standing next to a red mailbox in Denmark.

We know that it's Denmark, because the mailbox features the logo of the Danish postal service.

Postbrevkasse is, as you might have guessed, the Danish word for mailbox.

An English translation of the history section of the Post Danmark A/S website gives a little information about the early history of the postal service in Denmark:
"King Christian II’s temporal act from 1522 contains the first attempt to establish a postal service in Denmark, but the project petered out. King Christian IV took up the idea, and on December 24, 1624, he issued a 'Royal Ordinance on Postmen', called the birth certificate of the Danish Post Office. Nine postal routes were established. The most important route was the one between Copenhagen and Hamburg, where letters, parcels and goods were transported by carriage whereas postmen who went by foot and only carried letters served the other routes.

"In Copenhagen, a postmaster was appointed to stay at Børsen, the Exchange in Copenhagen, two hours each day and personally handle administrative as well as practical affairs, so it was not without reason that it was mentioned in the Ordinance that he had to be a 'sober and diligent man'. In the provincial towns which the postmen passed they took lodgings in an inn, for instance, and the landlord was to accept and distribute letters to addressees who lived in places not on the actual route."

Finally, on a tangent, this snapshot contains a minor mystery we'll never be able to solve. What's that sign or poster on the wall behind the mailbox? I fear we don't have enough resolution to ever figure it out.

Sort-of related posts

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ye Olde Papergreat Post No. 1,600, con pollo

Hello readers!

[Finally] It is time for another Papergreat Milestone™. This time, we have arrived at the 1,600th post. That is, for sure, a bundle of books, paper, receipts, postcards, recipes and old advertising. And footnotes. Along the ride, we've had everything from a former governor of Delaware to odd stuff tucked inside old textbooks to brochures for long-gone New England bookshops.

In contemplating what might make for the perfect milestone post1, I have often thought that it might involve postcards, a girl reading a book, a cozy room, and, of course, chickens.2

But certainly no such thing could exist. Right?

Indeed, such a thing does exist. Browsing on Redbubble, I stumbled upon a wonderful artist — one who, unknowingly, captured the perfect image for this blog. Her name is Ryan Conners and she is a "self-taught cat folk artist" and photographer who lives in northwestern Pennsylvania.

She has oodles of fabulous artwork, but when I saw this piece, I knew it needed to be featured here on Papergreat...

Girl reading book. Check.
Cozy room. Check.
Chicken. Check.

Conners, who kindly granted permission for me to post this photo (which is available as a postcard, photograph and art print on Redbubble), gives the following back story:
"The girl is my daughter and the chicken is Lillian — one of our backyard chickens. Totally a photo, not photoshopped. Had to do it quickly so no chicken poop fell. ... Anna (my daugher) loves the chickens so I figured let’s bring one in, sit them by the fireplace, and read stories. ... I only added that on Redbubble because a customer who purchased a painting with the rocking toucan, wanted to also purchase a print of the photograph with the actual rocking toucan."
So we should give thanks to the toucan, too!

Conners is an artist you should check out and consider supporting. Her cat-themed artwork and her Halloween-themed artwork (some of which overlap) are especially humorous and fabulous. Here are some places you can find her stuff...

I'll leave you with another piece of her artwork, which she also granted permission for me to use here. It makes this milestone post even more complete, because now we have a cat, too!

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel (Cat Channel?) for Post No. 1,601. There's always more ephemera.

1. As opposed to the perfect country and western song, which would probably include lyrics about mama, trains, trucks, prison and gettin' drunk.
2. Previous milestone posts include:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Requiem for a 150-year-old McGuffey Reader

Time, the elements and some untoward mold have doomed this 1865 edition of McGuffey's New Third Eclectic Reader: For Young Learners.

This installment of the historic series of primers was published by Van Antwerp, Bragg & Company of Cincinnati and New York and entered, "according to Act of Congress," in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of Ohio.

Before this volume enters the U.S. recycling system and (hopefully) gets turned back into paper that someone from the 21st century can use for dreaming, imagining and creating, here's a final peek inside...


The water-warped inside front cover features the name Julie (or Julia) Miller and some nice drawings of birds (or perhaps chickens). The originals were done in red and then traced over with pencil.


Here's the title page, featuring what appears to be a lamb.

Some McGuffey Reader trivia, from Wikipedia: "The manufacturer Henry Ford cited McGuffey's Readers as one of his most important childhood influences. He was an avid fan of McGuffey's Readers first editions, and claimed as an adult to be able to quote from McGuffey's by memory at great length. Ford republished all six Readers from the 1867 edition, and distributed complete sets of them, at his own expense, to schools across the United States. In 1934, Ford had the log cabin where McGuffey was born moved to Greenfield Village, Ford's museum of Americana at Dearborn, Michigan."


This lesson revolved around learning to be kind to animals, by way of the tale of an upside-down turtle (or more likely a tortoise, which would have been a tougher word).

The good news is that is has a happy ending, thanks to Samuel, who makes these two speeches:

"Think, Robert. What if you were a turtle, and somebody should put you on your back, so that you could not turn over, and then go off and leave you? ... [A] turtle can feel. Besides, you say yourself, that you suppose he does not like to lie so. Now tell me, would you like to be treated so?"

"You know, Robert, that our parents and our teacher have always told us to treat others as we would wish to be treated, if we were in their place. And I am sure, if I were a turtle, I should not like it much, if some bad boy should put me on my back, and then go off and leave me so. Neither do I think you would. I think we should remember the GOLDEN RULE, 'Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you,' in our treatment of animals, as well as in our treatment of men."


The new words for this lesson include tardy, wrong, lessons, schoolboy, idler and knowledge.

So I think we understand what's going on here.


An old wooden guide-post rises up before a lone boy in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. What could go wrong?


Here we go. A cat and a book. Everyone safe and sound and inside. Much better.


Here's the back cover. Thirteen cents in 1865 is equivalent to about $2 today. So I think it's fair to say these readers were reasonably priced.

Related posts

A long-gone motor inn, longer-gone ancestors and a sketch

Here's a fun piece of ephemera we came across while cleaning out 505 Oak Crest Lane. It's a piece of letterhead from the now-vanished Framingham Motor Inn in Framingham, Massachusetts.1

My grandmother used it, years ago, to write down notes from her voluminous genealogy research.2 It's filled with 18th century dates and names such as Hendrickson, Walraven and others that I cannot read because her handwriting was not stellar. There's a Sven (Swain) Walraven who married Cathrine (?) Hendrickson, and they had five children, one of whom died shortly after birth and another who didn't make it to his 11th birthday.3

Meanwhile, the reverse side of this paper features a partial sketch that was probably drawn by my mom...

As for the Framingham Motor Inn along Route 9 — "America's Finest Motor Inn" — I don't think it exists any more. I did find some interesting tidbits, though, while researching its fate:

  • A Framingham Motor Inn menu from December 1954 featured fried filet of sole for $1.35, chopped sirloin steak for $1.50, baked stuffed schrod in Lobster Newburg sauce for $1.50 and half lobster thermidor for $1.85. The dessert menu offerings included ice cream puff, apple pan dowdy and baked Indian pudding.
  • The inn had its own china at one point.
  • A commenter on the post titled "Great Memories Of New England Restaurants That Are No Longer with Us" writes: "Framingham’s most romantic spot might have been La Rotisserie Normandie, at the Framingham Motor Inn, where you could get flaming food!"
  • A New England School Development Council Conference on "How to Save Money by Really Trying" was held at the Framingham Motor Inn in October 1970.
  • Donald R. "Bob" Nelson, who died in 2008 at age 80, was "An accomplished trumpet player and vocalist [who] was the leader of the 'Bob Nelson Orchestra'." The orchestra was once a featured group at the former Framingham Motor Inn.
  • A 2011 commenter on the This is Framingham blog writes that there was once a place called "Vibrations in the old Framingham Motor Inn in front of the Waterview apartments."
  • The 2006 memoir 40 Hour Man, by author Stephen Beaupre and artist Steve Lafler, contains the following passage:
    "I was about to graduate from high school and had made plans with friends to rent a house at the beach that summer. I needed a short-term job to hold me over. That job turned out to be working at the Framingham Motor Inn, a faded no-frills motel overseen by a shadowy figure in a white linen suit who had a hook for a hand.

    "I was hired to wash dishes, but was liberated from kitchen duty by the maintenance supervisor, an easygoing character named Tony. All the maintenance guys loved working for Tony, and it was easy to see why. There wasn't much work involved. Each morning, he would round us up, hand out paintbrushes, and then vanish for the day. We responded to this honor policy like any other self-respecting group of punks: We went up on the roof and smoked dope.

    "The big project that summer was painting the motel pool, and Olympic-sized monstrosity that hadn't been touch in decades. I'd like to say we rose to the challenge, but that's not quite right. Mostly we sat around in the deep end, paint scraper in one hand, beer in the other, keeping one eye out for Captain Hook."

1. Framingham, birthplace of Crispus Attucks, is situated along the Native American trail that became known as the Old Connecticut Path. In a related note, speaking of New England's oldest pathways, Joan recently sent me a link to a fascinating BLDG BLOG post titled "Lost Highways." Geoff Manaugh's piece discusses the "ancient" roads, some never built, in Vermont and the legal issues they have created in modern times. It serves as a companion post to Manaugh's article in The New Yorker titled "Where the Roads Have No Name." It's great stuff, partly discussing whether old roads have just as much of a right to be preserved (or at least marked and remembered) as certain historic buildings.
2. We also came across a 1978 notebook with a Battlestar Galactica themed cover that's filled with genealogy notes. That made me chuckle.
3. During this time, roughly, the Seven Years' War and its North American component, the French and Indian War were taking place.